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The Power of the Scribe

Spiritual faith has long been shaped by the lettering on a religion’s sacred texts. This is particularly the case with Judaism, so we visited three Hebrew scribes — in Jerusalem, New York City, and the liberal enclave of Berkeley, California…

Summer 2018

The Art of the Joke

When you watch masterful stand-up comics perform, it seems like they are just naturally hilarious. Don’t kid yourself. This is hard work, requiring hours and hours of trial and error. To its masters, the art of comedy is a craft, not unlike the careful, step-by-step work required to make a fine piece of furniture.

By DAVID MUNRO

Winter 2018

The Perfect Pen

Gorgeous pens have always symbolized the art of writing at its finest—the quintessential combination of beauty, tradition, and skill. But did you ever think of the fountain pen as a tool of environmental consciousness? Our author certainly does. Considering the fountain pen’s myriad varieties, and the powers of vintage pens in particular, he also shops very selectively, cleans his pens regularly, and searches for (and sometimes even makes) the perfect ink.

By TIM REDMOND

Spring 2017

The Power of the Scribe

For centuries, spiritual faith has been shaped in part by how its scribes form the letters of their sacred texts. This is particularly the case with Judaism. We visit with three scribes in three very different corners of Jewish faith—Jerusalem; New York City’s Orthodox neighborhood in Brooklyn; and the liberal enclave of Berkeley, California—to understand why people still go to all this trouble. Along the way, we walk across the religious aisle to the Muslim world to see what happens to the Urdu language of India and Pakistan when its script gets computerized.

By BRYCE T. BAUER
With LYNN HOLSTEIN, TODD OPPENHEIMER, and ALI ETERAZ

Spring 2016

The Mind of a Cartoonist

A dive into the twisted, obsessive, goofy world of Ken Krimstein, who draws cartoons for a range of magazines, including The New Yorker. What does this art form tell us about the nature of humor, and cartooning’s lure?

By LORI ROTENBERK

Spring 2016

The Shinola Polish

In the 1960s, Shinola, the venerable American shoe-polish company that became famous for a World War II soldier’s crack, “You don’t know shit from Shinola,” shut its doors. The move was a fitting bookend to the golden age of American manufacturing. Then, in 2011, a Texas developer revived the name as a maker of watches, leather goods, and retro bicycles in the broken heart of downtown Detroit, where, the company says, “American is Made.” Is making things in America again that easy?

By LAURA FRASER

Fall 2015, Summer 2017

Rum’s Revenge

In Brooklyn, a former nuclear engineer borrows from the Caribbean’s traditional methods of distilling rum, reviving America’s first spirit in the process.

By BRYCE T. BAUER

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